Can Pittsburgh center Jimmy Morrissey, who won the 2020 Burlsworth Trophy for the most outstanding college football player who started his career as a walk-on, continue his unlikely football journey by being selected in the 2021 NFL Draft?
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Jimmy Morrissey NFL Draft player profile
- Position: middle
- School: Pittsburgh
- Current year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’1 1/2 ″
- Weight: 293 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Jimmy Morrissey Scouting Report
Positive: Undersized Zone Exclusion Center, which is most effective on the move. Patient, basically healthy in all areas and shows great awareness. Bend your knees, immediately raise your hands and block consistently with the right leverage. Fires the snapshot in blocks, shows explosiveness at the point and quickly gets to the second level.
Has excellent vision, sees lightning, and adapts to knock defenders out of their attacking angles. Effective with the shotgun breech. Does a great job of quarterbacking the offensive line.
Negatives: Must improve his strength at the point of attack. Requires a run start in blocks and does not move the defenders off the ball.
Analysis: Morrissey has been a consistent center for Pittsburgh, making the most of his skills. It comes with size restrictions but will thrive in a zone lockout system.
Jimmy Morrissey player profile
Morrissey, a Huntington Valley native, took the first steps on this unlikely journey at La Salle College High School. As a three-year-old player for the Explorers, he helped La Salle set a 25-7 record. As a senior, he helped them earn a title in the Philadelphia Catholic League. For his efforts, he was twice named an All-Philadelphia Catholic League Awardee. In addition, the Big 33 Football Classic invited Morrissey to participate.
Despite his success at La Salle, Morrissey was overlooked as a high school prospect. Without a rank, he did not receive a single scholarship offer to play FBS football. Even when it sent an email to all 128 FBS programs, it remained undesirable. Despite receiving some FCS offers, Morrissey turned his back on them and opted for a walk-on at the University of Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh Center was redshirted in 2016. After doing the job in Pittsburgh that first season to impress in the field, he was surprised with a Panthers scholarship offer ahead of the 2017 season. Within a year, he went from being a no-rank high school prospect to being a launch center in the United States ACC. Morrissey started 12 games in 2017 and formed the All-ACC Academic Team.
Morrisey’s appearance at the heart of the Pittsburgh offensive line
Forming the team did not satisfy Morrissey. In 2018 he made the team significantly better. He was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week after Pittsburgh pitched an incredible 654 yards against Virginia Tech. The Pittsburgh Center demonstrated their floor game skills, paving the way for 492 rushing yards. Despite an injury to Wake Forest at the end of the season, he made history for the Panthers. His accomplishments earned him a third-team All-American award, something no Pittsburgh center had done before.
Over the next two seasons, Morrissey would make 24 starts, extending his career to 47 total starts. He was team captain both seasons and showed some versatility in the position by playing on the right against Boston College. In addition, the center of Pittsburgh only allowed two sacks in the two seasons as the Panthers switched to a more passport-oriented offense. As the All-ACC first-team winner in 2019, he received the second-team award in 2020 and secured three consecutive seasons in the All-ACC teams.
After the season, he declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. However, his notable football journey took a different turn. While preparing the design, the Pittsburgh Center received one Last minute call to the Senior Bowl. Less than 24 hours ahead of time, he drove to Mobile, digested the game book and lined up for the American team led by Carolina Panthers in the game on Saturday. Morrissey impressed when he saw snapshots of the game in both the center and left.
Jimmy Morrisseys fits best into the 2021 NFL Draft
Although Morrissey has been urged to provide more protection over the past two seasons, he is best suited as a run blocker for a team operating an out of zone system. In this system, his athleticism will be able to mask some shortcomings in size and strength. He has also demonstrated leadership skills and football intelligence, while the versatility of being on guard for some time could keep him on an NFL roster.
Some teams eligible for the Pittsburgh Center in the 2021 NFL Draft are the Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, and San Francisco 49ers.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a contributor to the Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.